Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer

Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer

by Robert Swartwood

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393340228
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 11/01/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 322,905
File size: 181 KB

About the Author

Robert Swartwood created the term “hint fiction” and has held contests for it. He frequently blogs about short fiction on his Web site. He lives in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

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Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
seidchen on LibraryThing 11 months ago
With the exception of a few quirky or quietly insightful pieces, this collection is overrun with ham-fisted attempts to shock the reader. I can't recall how many times I rolled my eyes, beginning with the introduction by Robert Smartwood, who seems so eager to justify the form (and this publication, and his editorship) that he expends nearly all his effort defending the concept and next to none probing its real possibilities. There is much to appreciate about very short fiction when it's done well, as the success of a small number of these pieces attests; it's too bad this collection is so haphazard.
CBJames on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Ernest Hemingway has long been credited with writing the shortest story ever, six words--For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Six words that suggest an entire family drama, one probably, but not necessarily, grief filled. Since the reader has no way of knowing what happened, the story can be interpreted any number of ways. It's almost a Rorshach test; the details demand filling in, but doing so reveals more about the reader than about the author.Do you think the baby died at birth? Or did the parents buy shoes with frilly lace expecting a baby girl only to find that grandma's predictions are not all their cracked up to be when their first son was born? Both interpretations are equally valid. Maybe the family struck it rich, left their crummy apartment in a hurry and just forgot about the shoes leaving them to be found by the next occupants.This is what makes Hint Fiction, edited by Robert Swartwood, so much fun. Mr. Swartwood solicited contributions from both amateur and published authors and assembled the best in his small volume of very short stories, each less than 25 words. He calls these stories hint fiction because at such a short length each story can only provide hints at what is really going on. Take, for instance, Ideal by Ha Jin:The boy dreams of becoming a panda who makes money by meeting visitors. For such a pampered celebrity, even a girlfriend is provided.Or Chance Meeting at the Insurance Office by Adam-Troy Castro:He had a fat neck, predatorial eyes, and a smirk of cruel recognition. "Yes," I said, without any pleasure. " I do remember you from high school."There is clearly much more that could have been said, more story to tell, just as there so often is with a full length short story. If a novel is an entire chocolate cake, and a short story is a slice, the stories in Hint Fiction are a fork sized tastes of someone else's cake, a bite shared or stolen from the plate of another. Part of what makes them good is the paradoxical pleasure that comes from wanting more which can only exists in the absence of getting it. However, while I may have wanted more from individual entries, I did not want more from Hint Fiction. Overall, the stories are a humorless bunch. It may be a shortcoming of the form itself, but there is little to laugh about in Hint Fiction. While a few of the entries could be called light hearted or darkly humorous, most of them are simply dark. Mr. Swartwood's anthology needs stories from someone like P.G. Wodehouse or Jean Shepard, masters of the comic short story. The stories in Hint Fiction are rich chocolate cake, but take too many bite size pieces a rich dark chocolate and you'll regret it later.
yarmando on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Diverting but uneven little tidbits suggestive of larger stories.
CarlosMcRey on LibraryThing 11 months ago
The idea of hint fiction is that by keeping a story at 25 words or less a writer can suggest a larger, complex story in the space of only a few lines. It's an intriguing concept which, if this collection is any indication, is tricky to pull off. Many of the stories either feel like great lines, either as something brilliant to open with or a nice little bit of characterization or plot twist within a novel. I think the collection is best seen as a serious of experiments, with the determination of success or failure left to each individual reader. That not all of these experiments are succesful is understandable given the challenges of hinting at so much by so little.
jilleey on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Hint Fiction is a fabulous journey through the 25 word story. This anthology of short/micro fiction is interesting and entertaining. Some entries are more interesting than others, but that is fairly common in an anthology. The writers are a nice mix of well-knowns and unknown writers. A great book to peruse when you have a few spare minutes or need something light between longer, more involved novels.
faceinbook on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Had to give some thought as to how to review this book. It was a very quick read and I had fun with it. For some reason reading this book reminded me a bit of a game we used to play as kids called telephone. We would sit in a circle and whisper something to the person next to us and that person would past it on till it came full circle when the last player would say what it was they heard. After reading these stories my mind kind of skittered around in much the same fashion that the little story whispered in the game telephone did.As mentioned by another reviewer, I too found myself enjoying the little blurbs about the authors who contributed to this collection. It was interesting to speculate how those authors, whose names I recognized, would have followed through on their lines.I have never had any experience with this type of format though I gather that it has been around for some time. Very grateful for the chance to review this little book. It was fun and something new for me.I am anxious to share this book with my reading groups. I think it will make for some great discussions.
the_darling_copilots on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Hint Fiction is, probably, exactly what you expect. The pieces here range in quality and interest, from the barely interesting to what seem like rather provocative synopses of non-existent longer works of fiction. As a few other reviewers have noted, even the worst of them is already over before you can get tired of it. All told, Hint Fiction is not unpleasant to read, though even the best of the pieces included didn¿t stick in my memory for more than a few seconds.This would be a nice book to give as a gift, and nice to have around for those times that you need some diversion but have no time or energy to spare.
Sean191 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I remember almost taking this off my earlier reviewer request list and even being a little disappointed when I received notice that I won a copy. I figured at the least, I would get through it in an hour or two and throw it into my list to try to hit 100 books read this year....I probably would have gotten through it even quicker, but I took the time to read about each author of the tiny stories offered here.Some of the stories missed the mark for what (I thought) the collection was trying to accomplish. Others seemed too poetic. But there were probably twenty or so that were good and among those, at least five or six that were really, really good. Some I read a few times (sure, not that impressive for a 25-words-or-less piece. But it was impressive that I got something new from them each read...that IS impressive in such a short piece. Part of the attraction to the collection was reading in the description the well-known authors with contributions - Joyce Carrol Oates, Ha Jin, Max Barry, James Frey. They weren't among my favorites and I would actually go as far as to say that Frey's contribution was bad enough that it, along with other things I've recently heard about his current activities will keep me from picking up his other work. But some of the writers I've never heard of...wow. Even for the handful of gems in here, it's worth it. I'm lending the book to everyone I work with for their subway rides (they'll get it done going one-way) and have already made it clear that I'm demanding it back!And, because it's my review and I can do this, here's my misguided attempt:The Word is the next to goHe reached out and took down the lights. He felt he had made a mistake. They watched, with shame and resignation, but did not protest.
JimElkins on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Thought I'd read this after the very short fiction anthology ("New Sudden Fiction," reviewed at more length also on this site), to see what sense it could make to write "hints" at novels.It turns out a 25 word limit is the most forceful, economical way to see, in a flash, the superiority of genuinely good writers: Joyce Carol Oates's "hint" is only 4 words, and it is miles and streets ahead of everything else in the book.
mykl-s on LibraryThing 11 months ago
A fascinating book, with a hundred and twenty or so stories, hinting at fuller ones. Some are wonderful, some confusing, a few leave a bad taste. Some I read over and over.
TheBentley on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Some of these little stories live up to the famous "baby-shoes" mini-story credited to Hemingway. Some would more properly be called short poems. But others are just lines FROM stories--often outstanding first lines--that fail to even suggest a complete stories in themselves. And some, like "Play Ball" or "The Lover's Regret" are just cliches and greeting cards. Inconsistent as the collection is, it's so short and easy to read that the gems are well worth wading through the junk. Unfortunately, they probably aren't worth the fourteen-dollar price tag. It would be a useful, small workshop book for a creative writing class, but probably not of much interest to the average reader.
wilsonknut on LibraryThing 11 months ago
There¿s Sudden Fiction, Flash Fiction, and Micro Fiction. Now there¿s Hint Fiction- a story in twenty-five words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story. Editor Robert Swartwood writes in his introduction to this anthology:"It¿s always a slippery slope when people begin placing limitations on art, and to immediately dismiss one form because of its length is simply shortsighted."For me, a story should do four basic things: obviously it should tell a story; it should be entertaining; it should be thought-provoking; and, if done well enough, it should invoke an emotional response. "Now, if those four basic principles can be applied to a story of twenty-five hundred words, why can¿t they be applied to an even shorter story?"Fair enough, I guess. Swartwood says the mythological six-word story attributed to Hemingway, ¿For sale: baby shoes, never worn,¿ was his inspiration for championing this new story form. I have to agree Stewart O¿Nan¿s blurb for the book- ¿They¿re fun and addictive, like puzzles or haiku or candy.¿ And if you don¿t like one, turn the page. The anthology is divided into three sections- life & death, love & hate, and this &that. For the most part, they are clever suggestions. For example, here is Camille Esses¿ ¿Peanut Butter¿ in its entirety:"He was allergic. She pretended not to know.' Several well-known authors are included in the anthology- Joyce Carol Oates, James Frey, Ha Jin. Ha Jin¿s ¿Ideal¿ was one of my favorites:"The boy dreams of becoming a panda, who makes money by meeting visitors. For such a pampered celebrity, even a girlfriend is provided." I enjoyed the collection as a whole. You can read through the whole thing in an hour or two at most, so as a reader you don¿t have a lot invested in it if you¿re disappointed. What saddened me a little is that the form seems so indicative of the Twitter age and the ever decreasing attention span. Is it fun? Yes. Should we label it art and promote it as literature? I don¿t know. Going back to Swartwood¿s four basic things a story should do, I think the form doesn¿t necessarily meet the first requirement. Do they really ¿tell a story?¿ I think they suggest a story, and then the reader fills in the rest. That¿s what makes it fun, but I don¿t know that the writer is telling the story. It can get into some postmodern, relativist, everything¿s subjective, kind of stuff. Honestly, I felt that quite a few of the selections were prose poetry. For example, here¿s Charles Gramlich¿s ¿In a Place of Light and Reason:"Sarah watched her son through the window, as he stood in the garden and bloomed roses with his hands." I¿m not sure what the story is or would be. I can¿t construct one, but it¿s beautiful and poetic. I¿ve gone on too long, especially since this is about a form that uses 25 words or fewer. It¿s an interesting form and a fun anthology.
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bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! The short yet entertaining stories are unlike anything I have ever read before. Hint Fiction was refreshing because it proves that a lot of fluff isn't necessary to make a story work. This would make a great gift this holiday season, even for those who aren't avid readers.
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mobofficer More than 1 year ago
Will open your eyes and mind to short stories, I started thinking of my own story before I read 1/3 of the book, Can't wait to see the next book by Robert Swartwood